Higher History

10 October 2016

To what extent can the Munich agreement be seen as a triumph for British foreign policy? The result of the Munich agreements success in 1938 is very controversial, it undoubtedly failed its desired purpose for European peace however this seemed unavoidable. Its considered that Chamberlains meetings leading up to the agreement were successful in delaying war at the very start, its debated whether or not this was for the best or if they could have nipped the issue in the bud from the beginning and stopped such a large catastrophe.

There were other successes such as doing as the British public wanted who remained strongly against war since the loss of life in the first war, British defences in 1938 were not prepared for another war, another war would bring unimaginable chaos and damage. However the Munich agreement betrayed Czechoslovakia who were strongly defended and allied both Britain and France, if all of them came together its likely war could have been avoided. There was a large lack of confidence in British defences in 1938, they were poorly equipped and what they did have were nothing compared to new modern warfare equipment other countries possessed.

It’s strongly arguable that by September 1939 Britain were far more prepared for a war with Germany and if they had rushed into it a year before, they would have gotten destroyed. At the end of the war Hitler claims that if he’d got war when he wanted it in 1938 he would have won. In comparison many believe that Czechoslovakia was the most well defended country in Europe at the time, they had a strong army and their borders would be difficult to pass through.

Without British and French support they would not react however, if all three parties had come together it is possible they would most likely to have been powerful enough to overthrow Hitler from the very start. Opinions considering this situation are very much split for the overall success of the Munich agreements. It was only twenty four years before that the First World War had occurred; most of the British citizens and public had experienced the horrific truth about war and were very much against experiencing another. The damage and loss of life from the first was too severe that another war would bring unimaginable catastrophe.

The British Public opinion very much supported Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement and this may have been the reason Chamberlain was so sure that he could maintain peace, even when it was out of his hands. However some politicians including Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden attacked the agreement and realistically appeasement had not worked, Hitler saw Munich as a humiliating climb down, he cared nothing for the agreements made and seen British as weak for allowing him to take and do pretty much as he wished without any interference.

He saw Chamberlain as no threat simply an irritating old man. Britain had doubts about support from France due to the countries unstable government at the time, the Rhineland incident and the Spanish civil war had grown a distance between the allies , and there was a clear lack of confidence after the French revolution. France would not act alone without Britain, so remained uninvolved. On the other hand, Germany would not have expected an attack from the French side, this could have knocked them of course and again the war possibly could have been resolved a lot more quickly.

In conclusion, I believe it is easier to argue against the Munich agreement with hindsight however it’s difficult to imagine what it would have been like at the time. We have not experienced a war but these people had, meaning they were strongly against war through experience. I agree that the Munich agreement was successful by accident, I don’t think it did much to be seen as a triumph for British foreign policy because it didn’t achieve peace, it still resulted in war simply just delayed it and this benefited the position the country was in for war.

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